The Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica), also known as the common puffin, is a species of seabird in the auk family. It is the only puffin native to the Atlantic Ocean; two related species, the tufted puffin and the horned puffin, are found in the northeastern Pacific.
The Atlantic puffin breeds in Iceland, Norway, Greenland, Newfoundland and many North Atlantic islands, and as far south as Maine in the west and the British Isles in the east. Although it has a large population and a wide range, the species has declined rapidly, at least in parts of its range, resulting in it being rated as vulnerable by the IUCN.
On land, it has the typical upright stance of an auk. At sea, it swims on the surface and feeds mainly on small fish, which it catches by diving underwater, using its wings for propulsion.
Spending the autumn and winter in the open ocean of the cold northern seas, the Atlantic puffin returns to coastal areas at the start of the breeding season in late spring. It nests in clifftop colonies, digging a burrow in which a single white egg is laid. The chick mostly feeds on whole fish and grows rapidly. After about six weeks it is fully fledged and makes its way at night to the sea. It swims away from the shore and does not return to land for several years.
The striking appearance, large colourful bill, waddling gait and behaviour of this bird have given rise to nicknames such as “clown of the sea” and “sea parrot”. It is the official bird symbol for the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
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